What is a coronavirus?
There are “seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, can infect people and make them sick. Some human coronaviruses were identified many years ago and some have been identified recently. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Two newer human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe illness” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The current coronavirus outbreak is a new coronavirus called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, and is being investigated as the situation rapidly develops.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. According to the World Health Organization, “detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.”
Common human coronaviruses throughout the world
1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
Other human coronaviruses that infect animals, can evolve and make people sick
5. MERS-COV (beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, “MERS”)
6. SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
7. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)